Botanic Fictions: On the Political Narratives of Plants

Plants are often considered passive, as merely beautiful to look at. But plants have agency, they are witnesses to history and active storytellers of human actions and histories. They can function as political symbols, but they can also be the format, the medium in which politics is being made. So when we are looking at a plant, we are looking at its various botanic fictions. Realising that the mundane office plant in front of me hails from the Brazilian Mata Atlântica, for example, or that the geraniums, which in my youth seemed to decorate every neatly kept window sill in German suburbia, originated from South Africa, opens up multiple narratives, from colonial intricacies to global power imbalances.

Looking at the background-connections or structures, which are underlying any botanic occurrences reveals a significant array of things. For this research I am focusing on three specific instances: Firstly, colonial practices and their ongoing effects, secondly and closely related to this, economic and ecological aspects of extractive capitalism, and thirdly global political power structures.

Anja Lückenkemper is an independent curator, researcher, and writer based in Berlin. Her practice focuses on an analysis of the present in its historical and global embedding, with a special interest in the construction of knowledge and knowl­edge production. 2016/17 she was artistic director at Kunstverein Göttingen. Anja has worked in non-institutional contexts, as well as for art institutions such as Kunstverein Munich, KW Institut for Contemporary Art, Berlin Biennial, daad Gallery Berlin and Kuns­thalle Osnabrück.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter